What’s better – a bridge cruise or just doing nothing?

Joan “Not Miss Timid Anymore” Rightnour took a long hiatus from bridge and hadn’t played since before Christmas when she sat down at the table for the Wednesday luncheon meeting of the PBP Bridge Club. Jason “Sailorman” Cohen, on the other hand, went on a week-long bridge cruise through the Caribbean where he played with two Life Masters between Christmas and New Year’s and he says he learned a lot.

So who would do better on Wednesday and who would make the right decision at every critical juncture and who would make the wrong decision? If you guessed Joan, you guessed right. So maybe a break from it all does help.

Joan and partner Pieter “Cy the Cynic” VanBennekom beat Jason and partner John “Unlucky Louie” Walston, by a total score of 1,440 points to 380, winning the only completed Rubber, two Games to one.

In the process, “Cy” exhibited his “bridge burglar” skills, stealing a Game and a Slam contract that he should not have been able to make, and on another hand, preventing Jason and “Louie” from reaching their ideal Game fit in 4 Spades, leaving them in 3 Clubs instead, with defensive interference bidding. If Jason and “Louie” would have found their fit in 4 Spades, that would have finished the Rubber in their favor, since they already had a Game on the books with two mere partials (2 No-Trump and 2 Spades).

The two co-featured hands of the day will be the Small Slam in 6 No-Trump that “Cy” should not have been able to make, but which he did make – with an overtrick no less – by inducing multiple defensive errors. However, Joan gets a huge part of the credit by making the right decision at the end of the auction. Joan opened with a strong 1 No-Trump bid and “Cy” responded 2 Diamonds, a transfer bid indicating he had 5 Hearts. Joan had only two Hearts, so playing in Hearts didn’t make her enthusiastic, so she replied 2 No-Trump. “Cy,” who had opening points himself, counted a minimum of 28 points between the two of them, and raised to 6 No-Trump, meaning Joan would play the contract, since she was the first NT bidder, and Jason was supposed to make the opening lead.

However, “Louie” led out of turn (a Heart), which gave Joan several options: 1) she could accept the lead and make her partner “Cy” play the contract, or 2) she could make Jason lead, and either require or forbid a Heart lead.

“Can I hear those options again?” Joan asked.

“Your first option is to accept the lead and make your partner play it,” the director explained.

“That’s what I thought you said,” Joan replied. “I’ll take that option — I don’t even want to hear about any other options.”

Great decision, Joan!

“Cy” should not have been able to make his contract. He had no long suit to run. Dummy was long in Clubs but he had a singleton in his hand. He was long in Hearts but there was a doubleton in dummy and Louie’s opening Heart lead indicating length there so that suit wouldn’t split, either. So “Cy” had to resort to trickery. First he induced Jason to cover the Jack of Clubs from dummy with his Queen, even though he would have had to overtake the trick anyway with his singleton Ace. That gave him an extra trick; Then “Cy” squeezed “Louie,” who was trying to protect the last good 8 of Clubs and two red Queens. “Louie” thought his Queens were much prettier than that ugly 8 of Clubs, and he had apparently failed to count the Clubs, so he pitched his winning Club, giving “Cy” all 13 tricks.

On the last deal of the session, “Cy” opened with a weak 2 Spades bid. As the first opponent, “Louie” doubled, trying to make his partner Jason bid. Joan had opening points and pondered what to do — pass and see Jason stick his neck out, or jump to Game in 4 Spades right away to cut the opponents off from all further communication?

Once again, Joan made the right decision — she jumped to 4 Spades and made everyone pass.

And once again, “Cy” should not have made his contract, because he just didn’t have enough trump to cross-ruff everything. But Jason, whose bridge-playing cruise mates apparently didn’t cover that topic, unwisely threw a trump on a Diamond lead off the dummy, which just got over-ruffed. Jason didn’t have to trump because his partner “Louie” still had a high Diamond left and “Cy” had to trump anyway.

That mis-spent small trump (a 5) would have taken the last trick for Down One if Jason had held on to it.

Oh, well, so much for bridge cruises …

Speak Your Mind